Portland Community College is welcoming an Emmy and Peabody award-winner to place an exclamation point on its Black History Month celebrations in February.
PCC’s Black History Month Celebration culminates around keynote speaker Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s visit at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Fred & Suzanne Fields Ballroom, Portland Art Museum (1219 SW Park Ave.). Hunter-Gault is an Emmy and Peabody award-winner, author and freelance journalist. There will be a reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Ave., and will be followed by Hunter-Gault’s presentation at 7 p.m. at the art museum. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for students. Tickets for the event are available online for purchase at pccbhm13.brownpapertickets.com, or by calling PCC’s Office of Affirmative Action & Equity at (971) 722-5840.
In 1961, Hunter-Gault challenged segregation laws and became one of the first two black students – and the first black woman – to enroll at the University of Georgia. Hunter-Gault began her journalism career as the first black woman writer for The New Yorker magazine in the mid-1960s. From there, she went on to serve as the Harlem bureau chief for The New York Times, national correspondent for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, and the Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent for CNN.
“I think Ms. Hunter-Gault embodies the richness and promise of Black history and culture through her personal and professional experiences, as well as her political and historical knowledge of ideas and social movements that have shaped this country over the last half-century,” said PCC Director of Affirmative Action Rhea Combs.
The visit caps off a month-long schedule of Black History Month events at PCC. Throughout the month of February the college will host events and activities at its campuses, which are free and open to the public.
“We live in an increasingly diverse society, and as one of PCC’s values, it is important to represent diversity in various ways,” Combs added. “Black History Month is one way of showing, and sharing, the accomplishments and impact African-Americans have contributed to society. With the range of activities we have lined up throughout the district, we hope to provide a bridge for cultural understanding.”
New approach to Black History Month
This is nothing new to PCC, except the approach. There have always been Black History Month activities at the college, but Combs said this is the first time events had been organized on a district-wide scale. She said that it was President Preston Pulliams who requested a more expansive and organized approach to the month.
“This is the first time I have done something of this scale and magnitude, and district-wide that incorporates and has participation from all the campuses and centers,” Combs said. “It is a complete honor and privilege to have been asked by district president Dr. Pulliams to organize something of this caliber. I see programming activities for Black History Month as an acknowledgment of the importance of our college’s mission and values to provide access and promote diversity, but I also believe this is a way to represent and honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of our forefathers and foremothers who fought so hard for blacks to have equal rights of every American citizen.
“As a Oregonian and Portland native, I see Black History Month as part of my personal mission, not only to PCC but to the overall metro-Portland community,” she added.
As a result of Pulliams’ request a district committee was formed, led by Dene Bowles, a resource support assistant in the Workforce Development Department at Portland Metro Workforce Training Center. The committee met several times a month to brainstorm, plan and implement the events at every campus. Bowles added that Black History Month gives the community a focus on the positive history, achievements and contributions to American ideals that Blacks have made throughout history.
“And that helps to dispel the negative ideas and stereotypes that invariably spring up when the truth is not given,” she said. “The experience of Black Americans in our history can further inspiration to all American that no matter how tough the struggle, no matter what the odds, when we don’t give up, when we stand together firmly for the right and the truth, great things can happen. And there’s nothing more truly American than that.”
Black History Month Highlights:
- Points of interest include free admission for PCC students, faculty and staff to the Oregon Historical Society during the month of February (PCC ID required). Also, there will be a free health education and screening from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 5, in Room 103-104, Willow Creek Center, 241 SW Edgeway Dr. The public is welcome for this event that offers free screenings for blood pressure, hearing, glucose and cholesterol, provided by Tuality Healthcare and PCC Medical Assisting students. Presentations by local health groups will focus on health issues affecting African-Americans.
- Speaker Andraé L. Brown, associate professor at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, will discuss the “Liberation Based Healing” model as a framework, show how it can be used as a tool for social change and provide local examples of what this work looks like. Brown will talk from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13, Oak Room, College Center Building, Sylvania Campus, 12000 SW 49th Ave. Recently, he worked on domestic violence prevention as a response to the string of murder-suicides that occurred in Oregon from November 2009 to January 2010.
- Rapper and activist Hasan Salaam will present “From the Spirituals to Hip-Hop: The Socio-Political Importance of Black Music in American Society” at 2 p.m.,Tuesday, Feb. 19 in The Forum, Building 3, Rock Creek Campus, 17705 NW Springville Road. Salaam will discuss the role of Black music in America as a weapon in the fight for freedom, justice and equality, and show the social and political climate of each form of music, including spiritual, hip-hop, jazz and rock.
- From Feb. 25 through March 1, the Cascade Campus (705 N. Killingsworth St.) dining hall in the Student Center will offer a taste of Southern hospitality, highlighting the rich and diverse foods associated with African American culture. In addition, the campus will host a Black History Month Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 26 in the Student Center mall, Cascade Campus. There will be arts, crafts, clothes, bike helmet information, community organizations, resources and much more.